There is nothing fun with an outage. Electricity outage will leave you stay in the dark and not being able to do anything until everything gets back on again. The same thing also happens to cellular or internet outage. Since our world today depends so much on communication, cellular feedbacks, and the internet connections, having an outage will definitely cause chaos and damages – not to mention that grumpy and disgruntled customers will make complaints.
The same thing happened to CenturyLink where they experienced cellular and internet outage back then in Thursday, March the 12th 2015. After nine hours of being ‘left in the dark’ the service was finally restored – but not after some bad damages had been done. Apparently, the outage was caused by Kit Carson Electric Cooperative crew digging a hole and severed the cables instead. The crew was responsible for digging a hole so they can install a new electric service pole near the Valle Escondido entrance. Unfortunately, they had a misspot and they severed the fiber optic cable owned by CenturyLink in the process.
Luis Reyes, the CEO from Kit Carson, claimed that the crew was responsible for cutting off the line, but they had actually followed the procedures and protocols to identify any buried lines before digging. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts and careful calculations, they misspot. Because of the severed lines that are responsible for the cell phone and internet connection, the service around Taos was affected and couldn’t be used for nine hours.
An official spokesperson from CenturyLink claims that they have dispatched their crews to fix the damages, but they haven’t made any estimation of when it can be repaired or how long the process will take. It is not known whether the damages can be fixed right away or it takes very delicate handling because it has complicated all sectors and matters. Nevertheless, a reporter right on site claims that the crew needs to dig a deep trench (around 30 feet to 40 feet) before the affected line can be spliced.
The outage was reported a little before noon, and by 5:15 PM, CenturyLink’s outage report to Public Regulation Commission stated that around 9,100 customers were affected and they were left without service at all. It seems that the cable was cut in seven feet underground depth, so it should be easily spotted by the Kit Carson’s crew before digging. Previously, the similar line cuts have affected all provides and also internet users, including TaosNet DSL customers, Kit Carson Telecom, and also CenturyLink. Those who are trying to call the cell phones within the area would only encounter busy signal. The good thing is that the landlines weren’t affected at all. However, some were concerned that the 911 calls would also be affected, including the one expressed by Arcy Baca, the Public Regulation commission executive assistant.
So far, CenturyLink has been asking people in Red River to call (575) 754-6166 for emergency situation. This is the fourth incidents within the area that have led to a blackout. The first one was caused by a bullet cutting off an overhead line. The second one was caused by beaver chewing off the cable. The third and fourth incidents were caused by construction teams and crews responsible for installing posts for other services.
Other Outages in Other States
This isn’t the first internet and cellular outage experienced by CenturyLink around Taos. Apparently, the company has experienced similar experiences in different states for different reasons. In Arizona, phone, cellular, and internet services were cut off because of vandalism, leading to concerns that terrorists could be responsible for it since they tampered with American infrastructure.
Half of Arizona was experiencing internet, phone, and cellular outage after vandalism activity cut off the sensitive optic cable, raising concerns that the US infrastructure is vulnerable. The outage, happening in Wednesday in February, was affecting important services where people couldn’t access the internet, used their phones, or even used the ATM cards. What’s crucial was that important and critical services like state government database, hospitals, police, and banks were also deeply affected, resulting in chaos and damages.
When the blackout happened, interruptions starting to happen from Phoenix to northern areas like Prescott, Cotton Wood, and Sedona. According to Alex Juarez, a spokesperson from CenturyLink, the severed optic cable is running from Phoenix to the northern side of Arizona. It was clearly the action of vandalism since the optic cable is basically composed of very protected and thick cable with metal pipes encasing the cable. It seems that the cable was cut with a hacksaw in a very straight cut. So far, the police have been investigating the incidents, not knowing the motive yet.
CenturyLink was moving fast to respond the outage. They went quickly to the location and assessed how severe the damage was. They were able to fix all the damages and got the service ready to back again very early in the Thursday morning. Juarez claims that the company is very concerned about their security system and they are very careful in managing their protection. They understand that business and customers are heavily affected whenever there is an outage; that’s why they put such incidents into their priority lists because they don’t want critical service like hospitals or banks to be deeply affected.
National Security Issue?
Meanwhile, issues of vandalism targeting US infrastructure have been developing fast and greatly. In different states, vandals have been responsible for electric grid damages and power transformer lines destruction. Whether it is the work of international or domestic terrorist, the threat is clear: the US infrastructure is vulnerable and has been the target of attacks. Some security experts even suspect that it is not merely the act of vandalism, but more like an act of intentional sabotage. They are concerned if the vandals are going to target both crucial objects at the same time, like a cell tower and fiber optic cable.
They encourage Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) as well as The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to strengthen their security front and improve the electrical infrastructure to deal with threats and attacks.